It appears that schools are not well designed to meet the needs of some children. The classroom and work expectations are ones that the children cannot meet; they might even be harmful to children’s emotional development. This can be a problem for the schools and for the children who have to sit in them. The solution to that problem seems to be to keep the schools exactly as they are and redesign the children.
This article is from the New York Times; it’s called “Attention Disorder or Not, Pills to Help in School.” Here are excerpts:
“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”
“We as a society have been unwilling to invest in very effective nonpharmaceutical interventions for these children and their families,” said Dr. Ramesh Raghavan, a child mental-health services researcher at Washington University in St. Louis and an expert in prescription drug use among low-income children. “We are effectively forcing local community psychiatrists to use the only tool at their disposal, which is psychotropic medications.”
Dr. Anderson’s instinct, he said, is that of a “social justice thinker” who is “evening the scales a little bit.” He said that the children he sees with academic problems are essentially “mismatched with their environment” — square pegs chafing the round holes of public education. Because their families can rarely afford behavior-based therapies like tutoring and family counseling, he said, medication becomes the most reliable and pragmatic way to redirect the student toward success.
“Success”? This is success? Taking drugs to get good grades? And what do these grades actually mean? Nothing. Not a damn thing. You don’t need good grades to go to college (if that’s the route you want to take), and you don’t need good grades to become a happy, prosperous adult. We are giving children potent and dangerous drugs so they can do unnatural things like sit still and do stupid non-work exercises for meaningless points. This may well be school, but it is not education, and it is not good for children.